KANSAS CITY — Royals super-utility man Whit Merrifield can find a lot of ways to beat you.
Merrifield ignited the Kauffman Stadium crowd with a two-run inside-the-park home run on Tuesday night in the Royals’ 11-0 win over the White Sox, their fourth win in five games coming out of the All-Star break.
The victory was somewhat tainted, though, by the injury to Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who suffered a left shoulder injury while diving for a foul pop in the fifth. He will undergo an MRI as soon as possible, the club announced after the game.
With Cam Gallagher aboard, Merrifield sliced a liner into the right-field corner that eluded former Royals outfielder Jon Jay. By the time Jay retrieved the ball, Merrifield was speeding toward third base.
With the go sign from third-base coach Mike Jirschele, Merrifield headed for home and slid in head first. Home-plate umpire Tom Hallion originally ruled Merrifield out.
“It was a line drive down the line,” Merrifield said. “I had a feeling it would stay fair, and I saw him dive and miss it. And I know that corner, it gets in that corner, it will keep rolling, and I knew I had a chance. I got to third and I saw Jirsch send me, and my wheels started spinning, arms started flailing, I was getting tired.
“I slid in and I couldn’t see if my hand actually got to the plate. But I knew he didn’t tag me before that.”
The Royals challenged and it was overturned as the replay appeared to show Merrifield’s left hand sliding under catcher James McCann’s glove and touching home plate before the tag.
“As soon as [bench coach] Dale [Sveum] said, ‘Challenge,’ I was pretty excited,” manager Ned Yost said.
According to Statcast, Merrifield’s 29.7 feet/second sprint speed was just shy of the elite 30 feet/second mark. His time around the bases was 14.82 seconds, the fastest recorded in MLB this season of the now 11 inside-the-park home runs.
“I was glad it was as fast as it was,” Merrifield said, “because if it was any slower, I’d have been out. I mean, that gassed me for about three innings.”
It was Merrifield’s first inside-the-parker of his career, and 12th home run this season. The Royals now have two inside-the-park home runs this season — Mondesi had one on April 2 — and 100 in their franchise history. Merrifield also had a single and a double.
The other big development was right-hander Glenn Sparkman’s dominance. He turned in his best game as a Royal by tossing his first career shutout, giving up five hits and striking out a career-high eight.
“I’ve never had [a shutout],” Sparkman said. “This was my first one ever at any level.”
Sparkman finished with a career-high 116 pitches and he had no intention of coming out before finishing the gem.
“[Yost] came up to me and said to just keep going into the eighth,” Sparkman said. “That’s when he asked, ‘How you feeling?’ I said I was feeling great, so in the ninth he’s like, ‘Keep going.’ I was all adrenaline and excited. I just kept going.
“I still feel great. Just so much adrenaline. It just kept pushing me, really.”
The Royals’ previous shutout was on June 2, 2017, by Jason Vargas against the Indians.